The complete letter is published on the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre website and is signed by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the Institute for Human Rights and Business, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, Oxfam International and Shift.

Also see: Our short framework for action for any company seeking to contribute to sustainable development

September 13, 2017

An open letter to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and United Nations Private Sector Forum 2017 Participants:

As global business, government and civil society leaders convene for next week’s United Nations Private Sector Forum to discuss financing the 2030 Agenda, it is difficult to overstate the challenge that has brought them together. Ensuring the eradication of poverty through sustainable, climate conscious, and rights-respecting global development is an ambitious universal agenda. We urge participants to ensure that respect for human rights is an integral part of all actions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs “seek to realize the human rights of all” and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is explicitly grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights treaties, among other instruments. The Agenda emphasizes the critical role that human rights play in the achievement of sustainable development in all its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental.

To put this in context, between 21 and 48 million people are estimated to work in forms of modern slavery; around 85 million of the estimated 168 million child laborers are in hazardous forms of work; and more than 2.3 million people die annually as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases. Poor communities lose livelihoods, access to healthcare and clean water when land is taken or used without respect for their rights in the name of agriculture, construction, mining and other activities. Ending such abuses would enable these people to live their lives with dignity, with improved access to education, medical care, food, and many other SDG targets.

Businesses must put these realities at the heart of how they define their contribution to Agenda 2030. Doing so represents the private sector’s single biggest opportunity to advance human development today…

Read the complete letter here.